Unschooling FAQ – Social Concerns


What about socialization?

Forced association is not socialization. In any area of life, people come together from different ages, genders, cultures, religions, nationality, and occupations. Except school which sorts children according to the above categories.

Raising children in a home and diverse community environment is more like the real world than raising children in an age-graded artificially segregated institution. Sometimes home schooling is called community schooling because very few families actually stay at home. Communities provide rich, diverse, social interaction opportunities with greater adult-child ratios to facilitate caring, decent social skills and relationships.

In institutions, socialization amounts to the ability to be controlled by the status quo rather than a set of values determined by reason or faith, apart from peer pressure.

The purpose of “socialization” is, or should be, enabling children to become ethical, kind, and helpful citizens as adults. Unschooling provides this, with actual social interaction with actual adults providing actual role modeling. The more I think about it, people who worry about ‘socialization’ are probably more worried about children’s lack of indoctrination, entirely BECAUSE they are upsettingly independent thinkers. The best person to teach a 15-year-old boy how to be a man is not another 15-year-old boy. It is a man.

Generally, people who throw out the “socialization” argument are people who don’t know any homeschoolers and are just repeating what they’ve heard in the media where for some reason this myth pervades. The person making the comment tends to imagine mom sitting at a table all day with her kids, teaching. In this imagined scenario, the kids never get a chance to make friends outside of their siblings. I think we all agree that this is inadequate, which is one of the many reasons that homeschooling parents work so tirelessly to provide such a rich and diverse set of experiences for their students.

Teen culture dictates that children need peers to be emotionally healthy. If kids are not raised in huge cohorts of peers, won’t they be missing out?

Do teens who have not been raised in an artificial institution called school, have the same peer influences on family life that school teens do? No. Is peer influence necessary? No. Teens cling to peers in school and resist family time because they are socialized to do this. It is assumed that ALL teens go through separation from parents and peer bonding is a natural developmental task of all teens regardless of how they were educated. This assumption is born out of a lack of studies in the area. Most studies done on children have been done in the cultural context of institutional age-graded schooling for 12 of their developmental years. Most homeschooled teens I’ve met have cherished family and play with their siblings and are much less attuned to peer influences then teens that have gone to school.

Where do children learn how to line-up, wait for their turn, wait to speak, and listen?

If school is where kids learn to listen and take turns, when did they stop learning those basic courtesies? Go to any cocktail party and listen to the adults that have forgotten those important listening and respect skills. Go to an amusement park and watch the number of children butting in line. Children need these skills taught by parents, not just at school.

About Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE

BA, DTM, CCFE, Certified child development specialist and master of non-punitive parenting and education practices. Keynote speaker and best-selling author of "Discipline Without Distress", "Parenting With Patience", "Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers to Teens", and "Unschooling To University."
This entry was posted in Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers Ages 0-5, Elementary-Primary Children Ages 5-12, High School Children Ages 15-18, Homeschooling, How to Unschool, Junior High School Children Ages 12-15, University-College Ages 18-25, What is Unschooling?, Why Unschool? and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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